It’s like a pasta-y stir fry

Because I am a working parent, quick dinners are a must. I’m a big fan of making a big pot of soup on the weekends and storing it in individual sized containers.

I’m also a big fan of stir-fries and pastas. This drunken noodle recipe is a bit of a hybrid. It’s an asian-style stir fry that uses rice noodles. Like any stir-fry, it requires some chopping, but it cooks quickly. It’s probably 45-ish minutes from pulling out the recipe to setting the serving dish on the table.

12oz rice noodles
12 oz chicken breast (the packages of chicken breast at our grocery store are 1lb, we just use the whole thing)
1T + 0.25c tamari or gluten-free soy sauce (or heck, if you’re not gluten-free, regular soy sauce is probably fine!)
0.75c packed brown sugar
0.33c lime juice (~3 limes if you’re juicing your own)
0.25c water
0.25c Asian chili-garlic sauce
0.25 c vegetable oil
0.5 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1″ pieces (~6c)
1.5c coarsely chopped cilantro
4 scallions, sliced thin

  1. Cover noodles in very hot tap water. Leave until pliable (~35 minutes, which, if you do this first and then chop the chicken & veggies, is conveniently about how long until you’ll need them again).
  2. Slice chicken breasts into strips 0.25″ thick. Toss with 1T tamari sauce.
  3. Whisk together remaining tamari/soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, water, chili-garlic sauce. Set aside.
  4. Heat 2T oil in 12″ nonstick skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook for ~3 minutes. The strips should be nearly cooked through. Transfer to clean bowl.
  5. Add 1T oil to skillet. Add cabbage and cook until spotty brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with chicken.
  6. Wipe out skillet, add 3T oil, heat over medium-high heat. Add drained rice noodles and tamari mixture, tossing gently until sauce has thickened and noodles are tender. (This typically takes ~5 minutes, but the recipe claims it could take as long as 10. That’s never been my experience.) Add chicken-cabbage mixture and cilantro. Cook until chicken is warmed through. Sprinkle scallions & serve.

Soup for all

sunburst soup

 

I’m starting a simple blog post when I don’t feel like writing. I don’t even know what I want to say. I want to talk about soup, about how a potato-leek soup is somehow perfect for this time of year, it being leek season (is it ever not potato season?) and all. (This one adds carrots, which is why it’s orange.) But I’m tired, and so I’ll just give you the recipe, maybe with the added note that this is a good recipe to practice your chopping.

Sunburst Soup

2 medium leeks, split and washed, white and light green parts sliced
1.5lbs carrots, sliced
1.5lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
2T unsalted butter
5c chicken stock
1/2t chopped thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
2c half & half
2T fresh lemon juice
3T chopped fresh dill
1/8t cayenne
1/4t nutmeg

Melt butter, sautée leeks until tender & wilted. Add carrots, potatoes, stock, bring to boil. Add thyme, bay leaf, salt to taste. Simmer for 20-30 min, until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and puree the soup. Stir in lemon juice, half & half, spices. Taste and correct with additional seasonings.

Hungry. Now. Must eat.

 

chili
I’m hungry just looking at it.

I love chili. LOVE. It’s easy to make a huge pot of it, easy to put it in individual portions in the freezer, easy to heat them up into a good, hearty meal. Plus, it just tastes so good.

I got a good recipe a few years ago from This Charming Candy. In fact, the paper I still use as my starting point is in her handwriting.

1-2 lbs ground beef (Her instructions just say “ground meat”, so if you prefer something else, go for it. I bet you could even use tofu cut into chunks if you wanted)
1 large chopped onion

Saute together over medium heat. Then add:

2T chili powder
1t cumin
1-2t salt
0.5t black pepper
1-2 diced jalapeños
1t hot pepper flakes

Saute about a minute, until fragrant, then add

0.5t tobasco
2T worchestershire sauce
2-28oz cans diced tomates (I prefer petit diced, myself)
1 can tomato soup (I’ll substitute tomato sauce sometimes)
45oz kidney beans

Simmer for ~30 minutes.

Like any soup, it’s always better the next day, after the flavors have had more time to meld together.

 

So not authentic. Still tasty.

Fajitas

 

We really do eat a lot of texmex food. Huh.

One of my favorite stories about fajitas is that the name derives from the cut of steak that’s traditionally used. Which makes chicken fajitas a bastardized version of the traditional dish. So I tend not to worry about particular toppings being “authentic.” None of this is authentic. That’s ok. They’re still good.

Chicken Fajitas
2-3 limes, juiced
6T veg oil
3 garlic cloves
1T worcestershire sauce
1.5t brown sugar
1 jalapeño
1.5T chopped fresh cilantro
1 lb chicken breast
2 red onions
2 red bell peppers
2 green peppers
8-12 flour tortillas (I sub corn in for mine because I’m gluten-free.)

  1. In a large bowl, mix lime juice, 4T oil, garlic, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, and cilantro together. Add 1t salt and 0.75t black pepper. Reserve out 0.25c of mixture, marinate the chicken in the remainder for about 15 minutes.
  2. Chop vegetables and coat with oil.
  3. Heat 2 cast iron skillets (one for the vegetables, one for the chicken) over med-high heat. Cook chicken for ~4-5 min on each side, sauté vegetables until done.
  4. Warm tortillas. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
  5. Pour 2T of reserved marinade over vegetables, pour remainder over the chicken. Serve with warmed tortillas and any toppings you’d like.

We tend to serve our fajitas with salsa, cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Not terribly traditional, but I covered that above.

The stove-top cooking method I use also isn’t traditional – you’re supposed to grill both the vegetables and the chicken. We do that when we make them on the weekend (and they taste better that way), but if you’re looking for a faster weeknight meal or it’s cold or rainy, this  is an acceptable substitute.

A meal + leftovers

enchiladas

 

Enchiladas are so messy. How can anyone make them look good? Regardless of what they look like, they are delicious. This is another weekend recipe, albeit one that makes enough leftovers that they can easily stretch to another meal. Especially when you serve them with a scoop of refried beans.

Enchiladas
(from Cook’s Illustrated #62)

1.5T veg oil
1 med onion, chopped fine
3 med garlic cloves, minced
3T chili powder
2t ground coriander
2t ground cumin
0.5t salt
2t sugar
12oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 0.25″ strips
16oz tomato sauce
0.5c chopped cilantro
4oz pickled jalapeños, drained & chopped
11oz shredded sharp cheddar
10 6″ corn tortillas

  1. Heat oil & sauté onion. Add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add chicken, stirring constantly, until coated with spices. Add tomato sauce & 0.75c water. Stir to separate chicken slices. Bring to simmer, cook for 8 minutes. Pour mixture through strainer into medium bowl. Transfer chicken to plate to cool. Combine chicken with cilantro, jalapeños, and cheese in medium bowl.
  2. Heat oven to 300F. Heat tortillas for about 4 minutes. Once tortillas are heated, increase oven temp to 400F. Smear bottom of 9×13 pan with 0.75c chili sauce. Fill each tortilla with 1/3c filling. Roll each tortilla tightly, place in baking dish, seam-side down. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle an additional 3oz cheese over top.
  3. Cover pan with aluminum foiled, bake for 20 minutes. Uncover & serve immediately, passing lettuce, sour cream, avocado, and lime wedges separately.

A weeknight pasta

salmon and farfalle

 

Salmon with farfalle is one of our long-standing pasta dishes. It precedes our gluten-free days, but easily adapted since it’s pretty easy to find gluten-free pasta. We use Barilla – but they don’t make it in farfalle form – so we used penne here. My kingdom for all the different pasta shapes with gluten-free ingredients…

Salmon with Farfalle
2T olive oil
2 medium minced garlic cloves
0.25t hot red pepper flakes
20oz can petit diced tomatoes
0.5t salt
0.5lb salmon filet, skinned and coarsely chopped
0.5c heavy cream
ground black pepper to taste
2T minced fresh basil (we skipped it this time as it’s not basil season)
1lb gluten-free farfalle (or regular farfalle. whichever.)

  1. Heat oil, garlic, and hot red pepper flakes in skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Add tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in salt. Add salmon & cream, mixing to blend. Heat for another 5 minutes, until fish is cooked. Add pepper and basil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 4 quarts of water over high heat for the pasta. Once boiling, add 1T salt and pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain. Return to pan. Toss with sauce. Serve immediately.

Tacos are messy

Beef Tacos

 

Tacos have long been a weeknight staple in our house. This particular recipe is from an old Cook’s Illustrated – I ended up taping that issue back together because there were so many good recipes in it that we used just infrequently enough that I didn’t memorize them. But I memorized this one. Easily.

Beef Tacos
1T veg oil
1 small onion chopped
2 minced cloves of garlic
2T chili powder
1t cumin
1t coriander
0.5t salt
0.5t mexican oregano
0.25t cayenne pepper
1lb ground beef
0.5c chicken stock
0.5c tomato sauce
2t brown sugar
1t apple cider vinegar

toppings:
taco shells
refried beans
cheese
lettuce
salsa
sour cream
diced avocado

Saute the onion in the vegetable oil. Add all the spices, stir till fragrant. Add beef, breaking up into pieces until it’s no longer pink. Then add stock, sauce, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with whichever toppings you want.

Meet the meat

chinese chicken wraps

 

In truth, this weekend was all about celery. I had some in the fridge, and it was wilting. I made tuna salad and potato-leek-fennel soup (which also uses celery) and this lovely little stir fry from Cook’s Illustrated known as Chinese Chicken Wraps. The kid, of course, still eats around the vegetables, but she does eat it. It’s intended to be an appetizer (if you spoon the filling into each lettuce leaf, rather than pile it all on top like I did), but add some rice and it’s a robust meal.

Chicken
1lb chicken thighs, cut into 1″ cubes
2t sherry
2t tamari
2t sesame oil
2t cornstarch

Place chicken on large plate, freeze until edges are getting hard. About 20 minutes. Mix all other ingredients in medium bowl. Pulse meat in food processor for 10-1 sec pulses. Transfer meat to medium bowl with sauce. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Sauce
3T oyster sauce
1T sherry
2t tamari
2t sesame oil
0.5t sugar
0.25t red pepper flakes

Whisk all ingredients together. Set aside.

Stir fry
2T veg oil
2 celery ribs, diced
6oz shitake mushrooms, stemmed & sliced thin
0.5c water chestnuts, cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
2 garlic cloves
8 leaves bibb lettuce

Heat 1T oil in 12″ non-stick skillet over high heat till smoking. Cook chicken. Move to separate bowl. Wipe out skillet. Heat remaining 1T oil (high heat, till smoking). Add celery & mushrooms; cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are about half the size, 3-4 minutes. Add water chestnuts, scallion whites, and garlic. Cook till fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk sauce to recombine. Add chicken to skillet, then add sauce. Stir to combine. Serve over lettuce leaves.

Light, fluffy, gluten-free muffins

five spice muffins

Gluten-free baking is a pain and I don’t do it very much. It’s just too hard to get right and there are too many opportunities to screw it up.  (Never, ever just sub in gluten-free flour. It will not work.)

These muffins, though. They came from a cookbook I trust, so I gave them a shot. And they are delicious and light and fluffy and amazing. Yum.

Sweet Potato + Five Spice Muffins
(summarized from It’s All Good)

1 large sweet potato
1/2c extra-virgin olive oil
1/2c milk (almond milk if you’re avoiding dairy)
3/4c good quality maple syrup
1t vanilla extract
2c gluten-free flour
1t xanthan gum (if the flour doesn’t already include it)
2t baking powder
2t baking soda
1.5T Chinese five-spice powder
1/2t salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Poke holes in the sweet potato, then bake it for an hour, until soft. Set aside till it’s cool.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and mash the flesh in mixing bowl. Whisk olive oil, milk, maple syrup, and vanilla into sweet potato. In separate bowl mix remaining ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet.
  3. Line muffin tin with paper liners, distribute batter evenly.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, brushing top with extra maple syrup in last 5 minutes (I usually skip this). Let cool before serving.

Cheesy deliciousness

Enchiladas Verdes
I forgot to take the photo until about halfway through dinner. Ooops.

Oh, enchiladas verdes. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….

  1. You are delicious
  2. Your recipe involves tomatillos, which I don’t cook with enough
  3. Your recipe also involves a green salsa recipe, which I have made without the enchiladas. It is also delicious.
  4. Cheeeeeeeese. Melty, cheesey, chicken-y deliciousness.

Without further ado, here is the recipe (a more complete version can be found in Cooks Illustrated #93):

4t veg oil
1 med onion, chopped
3 med garlic cloves, minced
1/2t cumin
1.5c chicken stock
1lb chicken breasts
1.5 lbs tomatillos
3 med poblano chiles (if you can’t find poblanos, sub 4 jalapeños), halved, stemmed, and seeded
1t sugar
salt & pepper
1/2c chopped fresh cilantro
8oz pepper jack
12-6″ corn tortillas

  1. Heat broiler. Heat 2t oil in saucepan, sauté onions till golden. Add 2t garlic, cumin, cook till fragrant. Add chicken & stock, cover, simmer 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove chicken from broth and let cool. Remove 1/4c liquid, discard the remainder.
  2. Toss tomatillos and chiles with 2t oil. Place on baking sheet, broil until vegetables blacken and soften, ~5 min. Let cool, then remove skin from chiles. Transfer vegetables to food processor. Decrease oven temp to 350.
  3. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to food processor. Process until sauce is slightly chunky. Taste, seasoning with additional salt, sugar, and pepper to taste.
  4. Dice chicken. Combine with cilantro and all but 1/2c cheese.
  5. Smear bottom of 13″x9″ pan with 3/4c tomatillo sauce. Heat tortillas in oven for 2-3 minutes, until pliable. Increase oven temp to 450. Spread 1/3c of chicken filling mixture down center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla tightly, place in pan seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, using spoon to spread it evenly over all of them. Sprinkle remaining 1/2c cheese down middle. Cover pan with foil.
  6. Bake enchiladas for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.